Project Directory - Project Entry

CCRU home background on CCRU community relations equality and equity research

Project Title:Reconciling Life and Work - Experiences of Equity, Diversity & Interdependence
Contact:Karin Eyben
Duncan Morrow
Derrick Wilson
Address: School of Social and Community Sciences
University of Ulster
BT52 1SA
Telephone:028 70 324550/324620
Fax:028 70 324904


The aim of the Future Ways Programme is:

To find practical and human ways that people can live, learn and work together equitably with their differences.

Currently its work includes:

Developing and delivering training on issues of diversity, trust building and equity in a number of different learning contexts;

Helping to define and implement appropriate community relations politics and practice within a number of different institutional contexts - often working in partnership with Counteract and the Mediation Network for Northern Ireland;

Publishing materials and texts arising from the practical programme of work;

Developing a local governance Civic Leadership programme West of the Bann with the Western Routes Initiative.

PSEP funds in particular assisted the development and near completion of the Reconciling Life and Work action research project [1997-2000]. This has taken the central concepts Future Ways developed in previous research around equity, diversity and interdependence’, and examined their practical implications with different partners in the voluntary, publics and private sectors.

Community relations practice, previously associated with children and marginal excluded groups, is in reality a central task for a society attempting to move from division to more agreed and sustainable politics. On the one hand, the process of managing division in Northern Ireland can only be given substance in embedded in mainstream development strategies for the region. On the other, division and conflict are such an endemic feature in the region that they constitute distinct barriers to its development and prosperity.

There is a measurable gap between people’s apparent conviction that trust-building is ‘important’ at a level of generality, and, a willingness to commit any personal or physical resources. There is broad agreement on the need to address these issues and very little expertise developed to do so. Reconciling Life and Work worked in partnership with a range of different organisations in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors to facilitate, and track the change processes in building organisational learning capacity to live and work in a politically contested society. It did so by:

Offering training and facilitation skills
Helping to build organisational learning systems
Analysing, documenting and sharing models of change.

We used the concept of a learning community to support a number of these change processes. Structural, institutional and community change in a politically contested society is carried by people who have engaged with one another in a new manner. In a secure society, people move within a shared national culture. In a politically contested society, people’s freedom of association is much more limited: history; identity loyalties; communal pressure diminish the range of people’s relationships and networks.

People learn within closed and familiar relationships with knowledge bounded within ethnic loyaltics. This inevitably limits the capacity to learn, innovate and effectively address socio-economic priorities. Learning within broader and more inclusive relationships is an essential part of developing a sustainable regional economy and establishing a shared sense of purpose and vision for the North of Ireland.

By establishing a number of learning communities, Reconciling Life and Work began exploring new possibilities across both identity and hierarchical/structural links and the very real emotional, intellectual and political difficulties faced by many institutions. This required leadership and significant risk taking in the absence of political agreement.

Expected Publication Outputs


This will examine how different initiatives for change developed. It is based on work with a number of local district councils (Coleraine BC, Banbridge DC, Newry and Mourne DC, Fermanagh DC, Dungannon DC, Strabane DC, Cookstown DC and Omagh DC). With the named councils, we used different structural entrance points.

Target Audience

All locally Elected Councillors
All Chief Executives and Senior Managers
All Partnership Boards
Department of Environment Officials
Assembly Members

Practical Purpose and Value

To encourage councils to embrace the principles of equity, diversity and interdependence within Policies, Structures, Programmes of Work and Council/Community relationships.

As major employers within local area to encourage councils to become ‘employers of first choice’.

As major distributors of services to promote development opportunities for councils in strengthening community infrastructure and encouraging cross-community trust.

Expected Outcomes

An annual conference structure/training event for district councillors to promote locally relevant responses to the above themes.

Presentation to Local Government Staff Commission and bodies of local councillors,

Seminar for local and central government officials.


This pamphlet will examine work with a major voluntary organisation together with several small case studies from other voluntary initiatives. The importance of this study is to show the extent to which an organisation can embrace these community relations principles within their management structure, middle management and staff.

Target Audience

All voluntary agencies committed to promoting trust and understanding
Finding bodies
Database of NICRC and NICVA
NICRC; Voluntary Activity Unit; DENI; Youth Council for NI.

Practical Purpose and Value

The emergence of many voluntary organisations in Northern Ireland pre-1969 has been linked to the different and often competing traditions here. Implicitly the cultures of many organisations have been predominantly associated with one tradition or another.

Those organisations emerging as responses to the conflict since 1969 also have often been single issue or conflict focused.

In a post agreement period all organisations have to consider their structures and ways of working. It is an opportunity for them to envision a future together, promoting peace and understanding. The challenge to many of us is to agree practical steps by which they assist this process.

Expected Outcomes

An informed debate in the voluntary sector
Seminars with leading members of the voluntary sector on these themes
"Future Ways" courses in the University of Ulster with a policy and management focus at undergraduate and post graduate level.


Target Audience

CBI members
IOD (NI) members
NI Economic Council
DED and IDB Officials

Practical Purpose and Value

This will examine the experience of working with several private companies responding to difficulties in their workforce around times of community tension. Developed collaboratively with the companies and Counteract this book will examine the need for long term planning and support for managers in such tense workplace situations. It will map out the responses of these companies as models of informed management and trace the emergence of the equity and Diversity Trainers Certificate launched by Counteract with the support of Coats Viyella.

Expected Outcomes

Enhanced enrolment on Counteract Equity and Diversity Trainers Certificate
Pilot group of Chief Executives to explore this theme
Promotion of practice associated with Counteract/Future Ways Equity and Diversity Standard.


This will trace the evolution of this pilot award from the earlier Counteract seminars established in 1992, facilitated by Future Ways, to the success of Counteract and Future Ways in establishing a pilot Equity and Diversity Standard to promote this with the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Target Audience

The Belfast Agreement provided an agreed framework for action. It identified the promotion of an equality culture and the building of trust as central strands in building a more stable and prosperous society.

This work is focused on communities, organisations and institutions who wish to embed the principles of fairness and diversity and negotiate broader relationships and networks therefore becoming more effective in the achievement of their goals.

Practical Purpose and Value

New tools are needed to meet these needs and help groups and organisations manage the current transition to a more open, inclusive and relationship based approach to their effectiveness.

The Equity and Diversity (ED) Standard is a quality took being designed to support organisations in Northern Ireland address the challenges of mainstreaming the principles of fairness, diversity and mutuality. It is primarily concerned with developing methods which most effectively promote organisational improvement against a number of agreed aims.

The ED Standard is developed from the recognition that business or organisational results are diminished by flawed relationships and low levels of social capital and that in a divided society these are significant impediments to this society’s development.

Expected Outcomes

The development of a high status Steering Group from all sectors.
The establishment of 5-7 organisations committed to piloting this Standard
The generation of seminars for public, private and voluntary agencies to explore practical applications of the Standard.
The development of a CD ROM Format with groups in Canada, Europe, the USA and Australia to complement these publications.
The promotion of an Equity and Diversity Standard by September 2000.


Target Audience

All local councillors
All Assembly members
All Chief Executive and Senior Council staff

Practical Purpose and Value

This publication draws together work we developed with local councillors from all parties in Northern Ireland. The ideas within it explore the realities of representing different constituencies at a local level in a society emerging from conflict. The text examines the ‘Civic Leadership’ function as one enriching task for local councillors and includes councillor reflections on this theme after several study trips in Britain and Ireland.

This publication explores the task of civic leaders at a local level in Northern Ireland in building a more accommodating, fair and stable society. It examined how a society where citizenship, and the rights and responsibilities attached, becomes decoupled from an allegiance to a particular political/cultural identity.

Expected Outcomes

A renewed discussion within local government circles about their Civic Leadership function.

A new discussion about the relations between elected local councillors and Assembly members.

More support for institutionalising peace building an reconciliation work within local councils.

Pilot programmes developing new partnerships between council and community relations groups.


Target Audience

Senior Managers in the Public Service
Assembly Members
People interested in Social and Public Policy

Practical Purpose and Value

This publication will examine the application of the themes of equity, Diversity and Interdependence to the public service in Northern Ireland. With the assistance of the members of the Diversity Working Group we will draw on our own work with the Civil Service Focus Groups and track the development of the Diversity theme within a change policy in the Public Service. This text will also link to the theme of ‘Diversity’ within the current ‘Modernising Government’ initiative developed by Whitehall and the challenges facing a devolved administration in Northern Ireland.


Generating a discussion about the task of the public service in modelling diversity for a contested society moving into a post-agreement period.
Knowledge being more widely share about the challenges of promoting a change process within a major employer in Northern Ireland.


Target Audience

Managers in the Public, private and voluntary sectors in Northern Ireland
Board members of voluntary, public and private organisations
Those interested in peace and reconciliation work and economic development

Practical Purpose and Value

We are keen to inform the policy and practice debate dealing with corporate social responsibility in the public, private and voluntary sectors in a contested society.

Political and social division dominates the public landscape in Northern Ireland. The search for unifiers or ‘transcenders’ assumes an importance in all social policy. In order for ‘community relations’ to have any substantive meaning, it must be constructively linked with policies for equity and diversity and an acknowledgement of interdependence between groups in Northern Ireland.

The practical task is to translate these broad principles into workable policies, structures and procedures with due regard for the many different contexts and learning cultures.

Expected Outcomes

Seminars with managers and board members in the private, public and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland interested in changes linked to promoting peace and reconciliation.

Short ‘Future Ways’ courses for people from different sectors wishing to develop practical changes.

An informed document that generates discussion among people involved in peace and reconciliation work.


Target Audience

The broad community relations field
Social and Public Policy analysts

Practical Purpose and Value

Since the mid 1980s the British government has developed a five stranded approach to policy making in Northern Ireland: reduction of inequalities; promotion of greater cross-community contact; encouraging pluralism; search for political accommodation; dealing with violence.

However, equity, diversity and interdependence have often been pursued separately rather than as part of a coherent strategy.

Expected Outcomes

This text will look at the practical steps we have identified in organisational change practice following our earlier report in 1997, Equity, diversity and Interdependence.

It will engage people from the different sectors in examining the limits of some older and outdated community relations concepts.

It will challenge policy approaches that do not interweave the themes of community reconciliation, economic development and social inclusion into public policy and organisation practice.

It will offer new paradigms within which practical tasks of peace building, cross community work and reconciliation might be articulated to all sectors in society.

This text will set a new baseline for community relations practice.

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site developed by: Martin Melaugh
page last modified: 06/28/99 12:22:57
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